Campi Phlegraei

or: Hamilton’s Flaming Fields

Paraphrased: The area around Naples was known locally as the Campi Phlegraei, or ‘flaming fields’, owing to the frequent and violent eruptions of Mount Vesuvius. William Hamilton (Britain’s envoy to the Spanish court at Naples) from his country house at the foot of the volcano, was ideally placed to witness and investigate the eruptions of the 1770s. The prevailing view at the time was of volcano was a purely destructive force. Hamilton sought to show that in a broader time scale, volcanoes had been responsible for the mountainous landscape and rich, fertile soils that characterized the area. Hamilton employed the Anglo-Neapolitan artist Peter Fabris to create sketches in situ to illustrate the work (Hamilton himself is pictured in many of the plates as the figure in the red coat). These were then reproduced in prints that were hand coloured individually by local artists by the application of gouache. The resultant work was published in 1776 (with a later supplement describing the great eruption of Vesuvius in August 1779) as Campi Phlegraei: Observations on the Volcanos of the Two Sicilies.

Take a closer look at this beauty at Glasgow University Library, Georgetown’s Campania site, Ingenious UK, Nortwestern’s Campania Felix, and Stromboli Online. Also Hamilton’s Apparatus.

10.30. filed under: art. history. people. science.


Very interesting, thank you. Hamilton was also invloved in this curious project.

posted on 10.31 at 05:50 AM.


If you have Google Earth, you can scope out Pompeii in great detail. When I first looked at Pompeii and Vesuvio in Google Earth, it was easy to find because it looked like ‘inside-out buildings.’  There were ruins around Fallujah that looked like this too. But if yo go to Pompeii in Google Earth now, it’s covered with info tags and photos put there by users. Oh! So this was a bakery, that was a theater. Fascinating. Google Earth is getting better all the time.

posted on 10.31 at 06:37 PM.


@Aitch: Thanks for the link. You know I loves me some ancient space-faring goodness.

@Tom: Indeed. I played around with it a bit right in the beginning but have not fired it up in a long long time… will have to check Pompeii out.

posted on 11.01 at 07:50 AMjmorrison

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